Moviemaking is basically like throwing your hat in the air and hoping it comes back full of money. So it would take a lot for a studio to decide not to release a finished film — even terrible ones can at least make back some of their cost. But whether it’s legal issues or just plain awfulness, these movies have been shelved indefinitely, if not permanently.
Dark Blood (1993)
Teen heartthrob actor River Phoenix tragically died in 1993 at the age of 23, two weeks before filming was supposed to end on this strangely apocalyptic road picture about a man named Boy and the couple he takes hostage. Director George Sluizer took years to put the film together; he tried to get the actor’s brother Joaquin to stand in for the unfilmed scenes but was turned down. The director ended up personally narrating through the gaps in the story. In 2012, it saw the light of day in some film festivals, but the movie has never been released and the Phoenix family wants nothing to do with it.
Big Bug Man (2006)
Believe it or not, Marlon Brando’s final role has never been screened, but what a role it was: voicing a villainous matron named Mrs. Sour, he recorded all his dialogue while in full makeup and a dress, because acting? He co-stars opposite Brendan Fraser, playing the title character of a guy who gets superpowers from bug bites. It’s meant to be one of those late night Adult Swim types of animation, not for children, and yet for some reason, it’s never been released. Not even on cable, which seems like the perfect place for it.